It’s been an exciting week, with Grand Central Art Center having been extremely fortunate to host artist/composer/vocalist Lisa Bielawa as a visiting Artist in Residence. This was Lisa’s first site visit to Downtown Santa Ana, as she begins the process of developing a larger project and an extended residency.
We worked to introduce Lisa to individuals in our community and sites around Orange County of possible interest. The visit allowed her to experience our community, this region and to begin developing ideas for projects that could be realized through her artistic vision.
Tom Burke, Flying Bull, Inc. and a Special Events Consultant, provided a tour of the airstrips of the former Marine Corp Air Station El Toro in Irvine, now part of the development in process of the expanding Orange County Great Park. Lisa was interested in visiting the site as she is currently developing projects on former runways as part of her upcoming Tempelhof Broadcast. the Tempelhof Broadcast will be performed on the Tempelhof Airport runway in Berlin, and in development for performance on Crissy Field, San Francisco. Tom shared brief histories of the site and recent activities, as we walked the runways and Lisa tested the sites sound qualities at distances. It was a clear morning and the songbirds in the adjoining fields were clearly happy.
Lisa met with Allen Moon, of the David Lieberman Artists’ Representative, as they discussed the current international creative scene and the many individual acquaintances and friends they had in common. Allen shared his perspectives of Downtown Santa Ana, along with his vast knowledge of the greater Orange County community and the individuals here for whom Lisa would benefit by meeting.
Dr. Pamela Madsen, composer, performer and scholar, California State University, Fullerton’s Music Department, met with Lisa at the recommendation of Allen. She shared information on her role as director of CSUF’s New Music Festival, including her vision for the 2013 festival. They talked about the current voice, music and composer communities of Southern California, including individuals involved with our colleague SoCal universities of CSU Long Beach, Chapman University, University of California Irvine, Los Angeles and San Diego, and the possibilities for collaboration.
Dennis Lluy, owner of Downtown Santa Ana’s Yost Theater, connected with us for even more inspirational conversation. For a bit of background, the Yost Theater it the oldest theater in Orange County, originally built in 1912 during the Vaudeville movement. Dennis has spent the past five years renovating the theater to an original feel and passionate authenticity. Dennis is an amazing thinker and long-term generous supporter of Grand Central Art Center, as well as the OC Arts community in general. After grabbing a bite to eat at Chapter One restaurant, we walked over to the Yost to spend some more time in the venue. Lisa visited the site on the first day of her residency, but this return visit provided her the opportunity to wander through the space and test the theaters natural acoustics. The space is amazingly live, with a hammered tin ceiling that helps to project a voice throughout, engulfing the site with beauty!
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Along with the individuals from our direct community, we were also able to engage Lisa with artists currently connected with Grand Central Art Center. We attended the UCLA Hammer Museum Yearbook Signing Party hosted by the Hammer for artists Adam Moser and Harrell Fletcher. You probably recognize Adam’s name, since he just completed his Artist in Residence project here at GCAC, The Cut-Off Men. At the event, Lisa was able to engage a bit with the Hammer‘s Curator of Public Engagement Allison Agsten and Senior Curator Anne Ellegood. She was able to have extended conversation regarding Social Practice, recent projects and the contemporary art scene of Southern California with Adam, Andrew Douglas of the Metabolic Studio, and Contemporary Art Curator Cassandra Coblentz (full disclosure, Cassandra is married to John Spiak, GCAC Director/Chief Curator).
We were fortunate to also have back at GCAC artist in residence Jules Rochielle. She is here for another site visit, as she continues to connect with our community and further develop her project – meeting with individuals from El Centro and Manny Escamilla from the Santa Ana Public Library. Jules visit provided the opportunity to gather a few other Southern California artists for conversation and a quick breakfast gathering. Joining us were recent OTIS MFA in Public Practice graduate Christina Sanchez and Los Angeles based artist Nancy Popp, who was recently named InterArts Chair at the Idyllwild Arts Academy.
More site visits were worked into the schedule, and through the recommendation of Jules, Lisa toured the Santa Ana River, which stretches 29 miles from Huntington Beach to Corona, and is located a couple of blocks from GCAC. Walking the bike path, she explored the space and considered its concrete valley and closed railroad bridges as possible project sites.
Wednesday afternoon, Lisa hopped on the train at our local Santa Ana Train Station (again, a few short block from GCAC) and made the quick one-hour trip down to San Diego. Once there, she first met with Steven Schick, Conductor of the La Jolla Symphony & Chorus. She shared with him her experiences as artist in residence at Grand Central Art Center and her current thoughts related to project ideas. They were able to brainstorm together and consider collaborative possibilities. In the evening, she connected with Jim Rosenfield, President of the Mata Festival Board. Lisa is actually one of the co-founder of the Mata Festival, with Philip Glass and Eleonor Sandresky. Lisa had the opportunity to share more information regarding Grand Central Art Center’s vision with Mr. Rosenfield and talk about concepts for her project to be realized through our institution.
Thursday, before departing for the airport, Lisa met with Cathi Douglas, Editor of CSUF’s Titan Magazine. The Titan Magazine team is working on an article about GCAC. Lisa sat down with their team for a photo shoot, before meeting with Cathi for an interview at the Gypsy Den Grand Central Cafe. Make sure to keep any eye out for an article on GCAC in an upcoming issue of Titan Magazine!
And with a packed schedule, somehow Lisa still found some quiet time throughout the week to sit within our GCAC Black Box Theatre, at the piano, working to compose new work for additional upcoming projects in her life.
Yes, another extremely successful visit by an outstanding artist who we are excited to have back in the very near future. We’ll keep you posted as the project continues to develop and we will let you know dates for Lisa’s return when they are official.